Thursday, January 21

Republican leaders should back away in horror from Trump. But many still fear him | Republicans

SSurely this would be the moment. Surely the sight of a Horde storming the US Capitol, smashing windows and knocking down doors, determined to use the brute force of the mafia to reverse a free and fair election, surely that would mark the red line. After five years firing those who warned that Donald Trump represented a clear and present danger to American democracy, calling them hysterical who suffered from Trump Disorder Syndrome, surely at this moment, when they saw the citadel of that democracy invaded by dressed men with the slogans of neo-Nazism (six million was not enough, read one), waving the Confederate flag of slavery, racism, and treason and wearing bridles, ostensibly to bind the hostages’ wrists and ankles, would finally make the Republicans recoil from the man who had led them to this horror.

After all, the link between Trump and the looting of the halls of Congress was direct and not hidden. Aside from leading the battering ram himself, he could hardly have done more to lead the mob. “Let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue” he said the “Save America” ​​rally that preceded the attack, guiding them into the House and Senate as legislators prepared to certify Joe Biden’s electoral victory. There’s no need to bother with the “strong,” he said, referring to the Republicans who were already on the side. Instead, the crowd focused on “the weak”: “We are going to try to give them the kind of pride and boldness they need to take back our country.” The thousands who had gathered, who revere Trump and call him Daddy, he didn’t need me to tell him twice.

Hours in the attempt – and planned In the insurrection, Trump once again made clear the ties that connect him with the men of chaos. “We love you,” he told them in a video message, gently suggesting that they go home. “You are very special”. None of that is a surprise. They were only there for him, summoned to Washington by Trump’s big lie that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen by fraud, that they had stolen their champion by an evil conspiracy that embraced everyone from the Chinese Communist Party. even his own vice. -President.

The Republican camel back has proven to be remarkably durable in the Trump era, but surely the president’s role in inciting a coup attempt would be the last straw to finally break it. There are some signs of that, as several Trump-era stellar enablers seemingly discover their consciences at two minutes past midnight. There have been a couple of resignations from the cabinet, along with the departure of some members of the White House staff. Former Trump Attorney General William Barr condemned Trump’s orchestration of the mob as “a betrayal of his office and his supporters.” Senator Lindsey Graham declared, “Enough is enough.”

Mike Pence refused to indulge Trump’s deception that, as the ceremonial opener of the envelopes containing the 2020 results, Pence could void them. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell opposed efforts by several colleagues to question those results, seven of them abandoned that effort once the rioters were removed from the facility. The Wall Street Journal editorial page, a longtime Trump cheerleader, is now urging the president to resign or be removed from office.

If this were a genuine change from most of the Republican Party, it would be welcome, even if it would be delayed several days and many dollars missing. It would attract deserved mockery for the absurdity of claiming to be scandalized by Trump’s true nature now, less than a fortnight before his term expires. How ridiculous to abandon Trump for lighting the match this week, when you stood and clapped as he lit the fire and doused it with gasoline every day since the November election and for the previous four years.

Elaine Chao resigned as Commerce Secretary, saying she was “deeply concerned” by the events on Wednesday. However, she was perfectly happy to stand next to Trump – literally – as he praised the neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville in 2017 as “very good people.”

Pence did not speak out when, less than a week ago, a recording showed his boss pressuring, Soprano-style, election officials in Georgia, urging them to “find” the votes that would frustrate the democratic will of Georgia’s citizens. state. and anoint Trump as the winner, instead of Biden.

Above all, Pence, McConnell, and the rest kept their mouths shut as Trump spun his great lie that the elections had been stolen, the lie that would poison the minds of his followers so deeply that they eventually sought to take over America’s representative organs for the force.

This would be the deserved response if Republicans now collectively recoiled from the monster they had created, and on whose back they have been happy to ride to this day. But there has been no such collective pushback, much less a deep recognition, or even an acknowledgment, of the fact that republicanism has allowed the toxic far-right to enter its bloodstream.

Note that eight Republican senators and 139 members of the House of Representatives still voted to reject the result of the November elections, even after the takeover of Congress. McConnell may have taken a position, but his counterpart in the House remains loyal to Trump. Pence seems uninterested in leading a cabinet revolt that would eliminate Trump under 25th amendment to the constitution, and there’s little sign he’d have the votes around that doggy table nodding anyway. The resignations from the White House that have come so far have not carried much weight: they include the social secretary and the first lady’s chief of staff. Only a single republican The House has called for Trump’s impeachment.

Why so much inaction in the face of indisputable evidence that Trump poses a danger every hour he remains in the Oval Office? One YouGov survey provides a clue. When asked if they support the assault on the Capitol, most Americans say no. But among Republicans, they are more supportive of the rioters who oppose them, 45% to 43%. That may not be a surprise, since less than half of all Republicans believe that Biden won the election.

Ambitious Republicans like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, looking to 2024, are aware of that constituency and fear it. For four years they have not dared to offend him. And now the Republican party faces an election, one that doesn’t go away with Trump’s scripted hostage video promising to behave well, no doubt motivated by fear of deportation or future incitement legal action, but still refusing. to admit he lost. He also won’t back down when Trump finally leaves on January 20, especially if his most devoted supporters follow through on their threat of more violence on or before inauguration day.

That choice is stark. Do Republicans continue on the path traced by Trump, the path of lies and contempt for democracy? Or they declare that as much as they hate Democrats, in the end they are Democrats. In a two-party system like the United States, it is no exaggeration to say that the fate of the republic depends on its response.

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